LIMERICK turned a shade of vibrant Miami ink at the weekend as celebrity tattoo artist Ami James visited the city to promote a new business venture on these shores.
James, the star of hit reality television shows Miami and NY Ink, was in the city to promote his partnership with Limerickâ€™s own Ross Nagle, who runs Allstar Ink on Wickham Street.
The duo have joined forces to open a new studio in Cork, such is the success of the collaboration between them, with James spending time in Nagleâ€™s busy studio for the past week, putting his renowned skills to use.
Nagleâ€™s city studio is open five years this month and the Limerick man is considered to be among the best tattoo artists in the country.
James, who runs Wooster Street Social Club in New York and Love Hate studios in Miami and Londonâ€™s Notting Hill, said Nagleâ€™s studio, which features designs by legends such as Bob Roberts, Tim Hendricks and Valerie Vargas on its walls, was â€œawesomeâ€.
â€œIt has got such a good vibe in here, it is a real tattoo shop, not like a lot of places these days that have nothing on the walls,â€ said Ami. â€œThis shop has collected soul. It is real tattooers doing real tattoos, you can feel it when you walk in here.â€
Allstar Ink has played host to high profile guest artists before, from Oliver Peck and Chris Nunez to Chad Koeplinger, and has four full time staff. James and Nagle met through mutual friends, and have struck up a close friendship as a result.
â€œRoss came down to work with me in Miami and we kind of clicked right off the bat,â€ James explained. â€œWe knew the same crowd for a very long time, we have old mutual friends, and so far so good, he is a solid guy and a really close friend now, and it is awesome to be a part of it.
â€œThe best part about going into business with Ross is that he likes to run his business the same way I do, he runs a really tight ship and everybody is happy to work.â€
The Israeli-born tattoo artist, who moved to Miami when he was 12, has been tattooing for two decades, a love that started as a child, influenced by his fatherâ€™s tattoos and the Popeye cartoon.
After starring on Miami Ink, which was syndicated to 160-plus countries, James feels that the taboos around tattoos have been broken.
â€œEverybody has wanted tattoos for the last hundred years, but they were just more worried about what people were going to say,â€ he said. â€œThat taboo has been broken by TV and we are no longer freaks with tattoos.
â€œWhen the show started nine years ago, it spread like wildfire through the world. Tattoo heritage is very rich here and we got really fortunate to be able to come here and be able to tap into that.â€